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11.01.13

Apple Feels the Pinch of Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Whitney umbrella

Section of the Whitney umbrella, an example of pinch point singularity

Summary: Android pinches to unzoom Apple’s hypePhone, which was all about hype after all; competition within Android is growing

According to analysis from a Nokia observer [1], Apple is affected profoundly by the rise of Android, which is based on Linux as its kernel. The Nexus 5, with version “KitKat” of Android, is just one of the products that make hypePhone (‘iPhone’) seem overpriced and technically inferior [2]. Hardware support for Android is improving [3] and so are the applications [4,5] and functionality [6]. Security is reasonably strong [7] and Samsung, based on reports [8,9] wants to take Android to another level because there’s increasing competition (Samsung’s Ballnux has become quite expensive and Google helps partners like ASUS or its own Motorola). Little by little, as Android becomes the primary game in town, Apple is becoming the next Nokia. The big competition these days is among brands that sell Android, not between proprietary operating systems (definitely not as they are in the minority).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Bloodbath Results, Latest Apple Quarter – More evidence of Peak iPhone
  2. Nexus 5 may be announced on 31st October

    The much hyped 24 October Google Play event turned out to be hoax by some blogger from Geek.com, but there is no doubt the next upgrade to Google’s Nexus phone is due. KitKat is already in work and this is that time of the year – just before the festival season when Google announces its new phones.

  3. Next-gen Cortex-R chips to run full Linux and Android

    ARM announced an embedded version of its ARMv8 architecture that will add virtualization and lightweight Linux support to the next of generation Cortex-R processors. The ARMv8-R architecture is 32-bit, but borrows features from the 64-bit ARMv8-A such as hardware-based virtualization and a more advanced MPU, enabling safety-critical embedded applications like automotive computers to run RTOSes, bare metal code, and Linux and Android on a single processor.

  4. Koush teases again: mirror your Android device in your browser (video)
  5. The 100 Best Android Apps of 2013
  6. 5 crazy things you never knew you could do on Android
  7. Contrary to what you’ve heard, Android is almost impenetrable to malware

    Until now, Google hasn’t talked about malware on Android because it did not have the data or analytic platform to back its security claims. But that changed dramatically today when Google’s Android Security chief Adrian Ludwig reported data showing that less than an estimated 0.001% of app installations on Android are able to evade the system’s multi-layered defenses and cause harm to users. Android, built on an open innovation model, has quietly resisted the locked down, total control model spawned by decades of Windows malware. Ludwig spoke today at the Virus Bulletin conference in Berlin because he has the data to dispute the claims of pervasive Android malware threats.

  8. Samsung seeking apps that are ‘more than just Android’
  9. Samsung wants Android apps that stand apart, starting now

    New software tools and a developer confab highlight Samsung’s push to offer something different from all the other Android device makers. Think multiscreen.

Banning Military Use of GPL-Licensed and Other Freedom-Respecting Software

Posted in GPL at 10:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Brandon Bryant responsible for 1,626 assassinations without trial (many innocent civilians included)

Brandon Bryant

Summary: How we can deal with problems of controversial or even criminal aggression when that aggression depends on Free software

SEVERAL software licences get notably criticised for having terms in them that explicitly ban use which may aid war/murder people. Linux uses the GPL, which has no such terms. The same goes for GNU.

We are increasingly made aware — even by the corporate press — of a previously-secret war waged by Linux-powered CIA-operated drones. This is one of the most disgusting wars in the world. People are being labeled based on electronic communications and then hunted down (without trial, without second assessment) by flying machines that shoot Hellfire missiles at cellphones owned by those people (so-called ‘militants’, which basically means adult males or old adolescents), never mind who’s around them at the time (just call them “human shields” after they’re dead). Nothing has increased doubt and hatred towards the United States like these dirty drone wars, which are about eliminating people almost autonomously rather than address the key issues (which may be ideological and thus addressable in other means). In Techrights alone, hundreds of daily links were posted to deal with this subject without delving into it so deeply. Contrariwise, a lot of the corporate press has helped cover up the atrocities (calling all who are killed “militants”) and parroted the Pentagon’s talking points, barely ever speaking to the people who are most affected by these drone strikes. Even this week — never mind the past few years — CNN tactlessly labels one of the murderers “American drone warrior” [1], even though he says his trainers reinforced the idea that this job was just “video game” (with real living targets).

After the war crimes in Iraq and beyond (Cheney is still not being arrested, let alone trialled [2]) we should know better the correlation between law and life. It’s not just about Arabs; the US did similar things to south Americans (see [3,4] in the news) when they had turf wars against the Soviets.

Software licences are a form of law and life is impacted by it to a great extent. One can authorise murdering people — even US citizens — without a trial in the US. That’s because laws got rewritten. The government carries out the murders with approval that goes all the way to the top (the White House and the juridical cornerstones). Software licences can be used as a tool against brutes, or at least a deterrent. If Microsoft Windows crashes drones into the ground, as it did before the US Army switched them to Linux, then that’s a good thing. It probably saves innocent lives. Let the proprietary software EULAs do the killing; use Free software licences to limit the actions of the cowardly assassins who sit down in air-conditioned offices, with or without a joystick in their hand (running a lethal, weaponised Linux-powered toy via satellite). Don’t let any of them portray themselves as victims (e.g. of “trauma”). They should be brave enough to confront families whose loves ones (mostly innocent people) they were blowing to pertinent bodyparts because they were “following orders” from CIA/NSA (they were free to quit this ‘job’ all along, nobody pointed a drone to their heads).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Confessions of an American drone warrior

    The first time Brandon Bryant fired a Hellfire missile from his U.S. drone, it was a cold January day.

    “His right leg was severed,” Bryant told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour. “I watched him bleed out from his femoral artery.”

    “It was shocking,” he said. “It’s pixelated, and it doesn’t really look real. But it was real.”

    [...]
    1
    The “video game” aspect of his job was reinforced by his trainers, he said.

  2. Lawyers Advise Toronto Police Chief to Arrest Dick Cheney “as a Person Suspected of Authorizing and Abetting Torture”

    Richard Cheney, former Vice President of the United States of America is scheduled to speak in Toronto Ontario on 31 October 2013 at the Toronto Global Forum, hosted by the International Economic Forum of the Americas at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

  3. Obama’s Betrayal of Honduras

    Do the people of Honduras have the right to elect their own president and congress? That depends on whom you talk to. In 2009, the country’s left-of-center President Mel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup that was heavily supported (andaccording to Zelaya, organized) by the United States government. After six months and a lot of political repression, the coup government was re-established with an election that almost the entire hemisphere – except, you guessed it, the United States – rejected as illegitimate.

  4. Record number of nations oppose US embargo of Cuba in UN vote

    In an overwhelming UN vote, 188 countries have called on the US to lift its 53-year trade embargo on Cuba. Havana has slammed the financial sanctions as a flagrant violation of human rights and said they are tantamount to genocide.

    The recording-breaking opposition to the embargo saw Israel isolated as the only country to vote in support of the US. Palau, the island nation that got behind the US last year, abstained in the 22nd UN annual vote, along with Micronesia and Marshall Islands.

Free-as-in-Freedom Hardware: Building Together, Speeding up Innovation Through Cooperation

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Hardware at 9:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reprap

Summary: What it means to embrace so-called “Open” (freedom-respecting) hardware and why it’s a movement that we should support

Competition can be fine, especially if it’s fair. But competition brings with it some animal instincts that can be destructive (e.g. envy), so increasingly we assess a society which maximises sharing and collaboration. Not everything in life needs to be viewed like a contest. Not even philosophies, although they’re inherently different from brands of more or less the same thing.

“For the betterment of our increasingly-digital society we need to look beyond just software.”The “Open Hardware” movement is in many ways derived from the philosophy laid out by Richard Stallman about 30 years ago. It lets people experiment with the hardware they bought and it also encourages (if not forces) manufacturers to share designs in order to maximise improvement among everyone. It’s hardware liberalism, as opposed to protectionism. Selfishness and isolation get replaced by the common good, and savings are gained (for more employment, more investment) by eliminating reinventions.

There are two new stories about Open Hardware; one is about camera design and the other about why Open Hardware is revolutionary. There are many branches of freedom (or as some redefined it, “openness”) and they includes free content, free data, and free hardware (commonly known as “Open Hardware” or “Open-source hardware” these days), where “free” refers to freedom. For the betterment of our increasingly-digital society we need to look beyond just software. Sometimes hardware limits our software freedom (c/f UEFI ‘secure’ boot). The spirit of sharing is collectively beneficial to all, except to those who hoarded or blocked innovation in particular areas (i.e. created a monopoly and guarded it with new laws such as patent law).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. This could be the biggest advance in camera design for a decade

    The frustration of locked-down proprietary camera firmware is one that many of us are familiar with. It’s pretty annoying to have a camera that could clearly be capable of all kinds of things but is heavily restricted by the locked-down software it is running. This is of course the origin of the Magic Lantern project, which was borne of the frustration of camera hardware that was capable of doing so much but was restricted by the built in firmware and the policies of the companies involved. It has taken a lot of work by the Magic Lantern team to gain access to the camera and to build an understanding of the way it functions, so that they could run their own software alongside the camera firmware and new features could be added.

  2. Open hardware and why it is revolutionary

    Most of us that are technologically inclined are familiar with the term open source. It is often used in a software context to mean that the source code of the software is openly accessible and mutable by anyone who possesses the know-how. This software gives designers the freedom to change, improvise and customize the source code to anyone’s use. In essence, open sourcing software enables the software to become a building block rather than an opaque commodity.

Apple: Cheap Labour From China, Now Helping China Digitally ‘Conquer’ Taiwan

Posted in Apple, Asia at 8:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Taiwan

Summary: More backlash against Apple, which helps a rising oppressor change facts and conceptually take over a very large island that prides itself on high quality industries

Taiwan’s political system is mystifying. I spent a lot of time reading about the history and the current relation to PRC (essentially like ‘Greater China’ or ‘United China’). My wife worked in Taipei (electronics), so I can always hear from someone who knows this better. China has been turning into the ‘new Japan’ in the sense that it’s silently occupying and crushing dissent in neighbouring countries and islands. It expands its empire by force and by oppression. By restricting journalism it limits what the outside world knows about it. One might as well call it the Great PR Wall of China (the ‘people’s’). Taiwan has its own government and on the Internet/Web it has its own suffix, .tw.

“For Apple to simply label the Taiwanese people “Chinese” would be like calling Cypriots “Turks” or “Greek”.”For Apple, a vicious and ruthless company that detests even its own customers if they don't toe the party line (we often compare it to North Korea for this reason), using the near equivalent or prison labour makes perfect sense. Apple uses factories in areas that have weak worker/employer regulations and where pay/working hours are incredibly inhumane. Apple got bad publicity over this and it’s not too selective (different countries and provinces in Asia have different rules and practices). A country which pretends to be communist (for the ‘people’) while actually serving few billionaires (capitalism) — both domestic and foreign — is a good match for Apple, so it should make nobody wonder that Apple tries to appease and even appeal to China (Microsoft does the same thing, but that’s another story).

I was horrified when I read that Apple is now showing Taiwan as though it’s just a “province of China” [1] because it’s like China has just silently taken over (people in Taiwan are mostly prepared to fight for their lives to defend from Chinese takeover). This is insensitive and one might wonder if it’s intentional rather than an accident. It’s hard to get this type of stuff ‘wrong’. There is a known controversy here, similar to that of the Palestinian territories (among several other feuding nations/ethnic groups). Fictitious maps are the best kind of propaganda [2] because they help distort facts and misrepresent history [2]. Here in Europe there is great demonisation of immigrants (especially in Greece [3]) amid ethnic tensions and growing clannish tendencies (it’s hardly better in north America [4]). For Apple to simply label the Taiwanese people “Chinese” would be like calling Cypriots “Turks” or “Greek”. It’s beyond tactless and it is insulting to many.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Taiwan protests Apple maps that show island as province of China
  2. We Have Been Misled By An Erroneous Map Of The World For 500 Years

    It was featured in “The West Wing,” but map dishonesty is anything but fictional. Check out this clip to get an accurate look at the size of Africa.

  3. Tell EU Member States: Save Greek “undesirables” from internment camps!

    First migrants and recent immigrants were rounded up from Greece’s streets and forced into internment camps

  4. North Dakota town to halt construction in bid to stop white supremacist influx

    A hate-crimes fugitive from Canada bought several lots in Leith and is encouraging other white supremacists to move there

Microsoft Bans Android/Linux Devices (Barred From Sale) Using Nokia Patents, Google Attacked by Software Patents on Two Fronts

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 8:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

With Nokia, Microsoft uses patents to ban Linux in Europe

Mikael Agricola

Summary: Another sad reminder of the destructive strategy of Microsoft and its minions in other companies (such as Stephen Elop inside Nokia), not to mention patent trolls

As we have said repeatedly in dozens of posts over the past 2.5 years (see our Nokia index), the Elop-led Microsoft occupation was primarily about Nokia’s patents, of which there’s plenty. Many of those patents affect today’s most popular form factors, including but not limited to smartphones.

Now we have a new example of the Microsoft-owned part of Nokia banning Linux-powered devices:

FINNISH PHONE MAKER Nokia has won a patent case against HTC in the UK High Court, and will seek a ban on the HTC One smartphone.

Nokia’s legal victory saw the UK High Court rule on Wednesday that Nokia’s EP0998024 patent, described as a “modular structure for a transmitter and a mobile station”, is valid, despite challenge from HTC.

How are British people benefiting from this? Who does the UK High Court protect here?

Well, thank you, Microsoft, for banning Linux. And HTC thought it had partnered with Microsoft for patent peace. A peace for our time

Google is not choosing to challenge software patents these days, instead joining the rather pointless debate about trolls (Nokia is not a troll, but Microsoft uses the company like it uses patent trolls), so maybe Google deserves some bans before it wakes up and joins us in opposing software patents (with no hypocrisy or a two-faced approach). It is worth mentioning other news that will harm Google. The United States’ surveillance giant Cisco (bigger a spy than the NSA’s strong ally Microsoft) is subsidising Microsoft’s and Nokia’s patent troll (one of several), MPEG-LA. As the British press indirectly put it, Cisco challenges WebM and Ogg by promoting a non-free (patents-encumbered with payments involved) codec:

Networking titan Cisco Systems says it will open source its implementation of the H.264 video codec and release it as a free binary download.

This could make it easier for open-source projects to incorporate real-time streaming video into their software as the company has promised to cover the codec’s patent-licensing fees.

This is an attack on WebM and Ogg — an attack in the form of “a free [gratis, but not to companies] binary download” (helping to make Microsoft’s and Nokia’s patent troll a universal taxman).

This gross distortion of today’s market is clearly the result of software patents. They do absolutely nothing to serve public interests, only to stomp on them.

Mobile GNU and Linux: Not Just Android

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google at 7:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Firefox OS

Summary: Addressing the misconception that only Android counts when it comes to Linux-based operating systems in mobile devices

WHILE it is true that Android is conquering the market of mobile devices (including tablets, which outsell laptops [1]) and that it dominates among the Linux-powered platforms, Android is far from the only game in town. To give just a few new examples, Firefox OS shows real momentum on the low end, with some hardware backers and even support from Google [2], the maker of Android which snubs Windows Phone (for the same type of app). Putting aside some other players like Jolla, Ubuntu Mobile and a few others, it turns out that out of the ashes of MeeGo (destroyed in covert means by Microsoft moles in Nokia) comes a Tizen-based tablet. Systena is making/distributing/selling it [3].

What a great time to be promoting GNU and Linux. They’re becoming standard and they are being preloaded on many devices; Windows is not even an option. Microsoft in general is becoming just a criminal patent leech, trying to feed its employees using fraud and racketeering. More on that in our next post…

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. 85M More Tablet PCs Will Ship In 2013 Than Notebooks
  2. Google releases YouTube app for Firefox OS

    Microsoft’s Windows phone may be struggling to get Google‘s official YouTube app, the Android maker has made its official YouTube app available for the free and open source mobiles operating system Firefox OS.

  3. First Tizen tablet ships to developers

    Systena began shipping what appears to be the first new mobile device to run the Linux-based Tizen OS. Aimed at developers in Japan, the Systena tablet runs Tizen 2.1 on a quad-core, 1.4GHz Cortex-A9 system-on-chip, features a 10.1-inch (1920 x 1200) display, and offers 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.

Jamaica’s Ministry of Health and Interior Ministry of France Pave the Way for US to Embrace GNU-Inspired Software Freedom

Posted in America, Europe, Free/Libre Software at 7:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Getting back liberty

Statue of Liberty

Summary: Public sector moves to Free/Open Source software (FOSS) show an international trend which even the home of most giant proprietary software multinationals seems to finally follow

THE painful news about the French Ministry of Defence and Microsoft is easily superseded by plenty of wonderful news about public services/government departments embracing Free software all around the world (even here in the UK there are some examples which are not publicly advertised). It turns out that corruption (such as bribery) from proprietary software giants is not enough to conquer everything which the taxpayers are funding. An important point needs to be made here. The situation is vastly different when it comes to private businesses, which are usually accountable to nobody. That’s what makes the public sector so unique and worth debating in public.

Good news comes from the French police [1], which explains Microsoft’s role in losing its grip (Windows XP patching cycle is ending). The French Interior Ministry, as it turns out [2], is also moving away from Microsoft (on 200,000 PCs). What an amazing number! And just to think that Mozilla so foolishly stopped developing Thunderbird any further, leaving people vulnerable to surveillance-friendly E-mail alternatives (E-mail on the Web cannot properly facilitate encryption).

Jamaica flagIn other exciting news, Jamaica is moving to freedom with GNU Health [3]. It is a “project of deploying GNU Health within their Public Health Care system.” [4]

Jamaica suffered European occupation for centuries, so hopefully its embrace of GNU will aid its autonomy and Independence, not to mention domestic job creation for programmers. Now it remains for the United States’ Department of Health and Human Services to follow suit [5] and fulfill its promises.

My online friend, who is French, said a week ago [6] that “[s]omething is becoming increasingly obvious: FOSS has come of age.” He is very much right and the point he makes was made here before. We take for granted now what we once really craved for. The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is getting stronger now, adding a General Manager [7] called Patrick Masson, formerly UMassOnline’s Chief Technology Officer (University of Massachusetts, which is a public university).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. ‘It was a huge risk’: How the end of XP support helped France’s gendarmes embrace Ubuntu – fast

    The French gendarmerie began its switch to Linux almost 10 years ago: plans to expand the use of productivity tools in the force while at the same time keeping a lid on costs meant that proprietary software was given the boot.

  2. French Interior Ministry: open source 5 to 10 times cheaper

    France’s Ministry of the Interior says its use of Thunderbird, a free software email client, running on its 200 000 PCs since 2008, is five times cheaper than the use of the ubiquitous proprietary alternative. The ministry recently started using the combination of GLPI and OCS, free software tools for managing computer assets, software licences and configuration files. “This is 10 times less expensive than the previous proprietary tool.”

  3. Jamaica Ministry of Health adopts GNU Health

    The mission is in the context of the agreement signed between Jamaica Ministry of Health and GNU Solidario, to cooperate in the implementation of GNU Health, the Free Health and Hospital Information System in this country.

  4. Jamaica Ministry of Health adopts GNU Health

    “Success requires hard work” is the meaning of this Jamaican proverb. With a bright Caribbean sun and an even brighter welcoming crew, GNU Health unshipped in a new bay this week. In cooperation with the Ministry of Health (MoH), a group mission of GNU Solidario visited Jamaica and inaugurated officially the project of deploying GNU Health within their Public Health Care system.

  5. Open-source advocates to government: Let us help you fix healthcare.gov

    Much of the constructive criticism is coming from members of the “open source” community, a passionate but loose-knit group that advocates openness and collaboration as a means of writing better computer software. Their desire to help solve the federal government’s website woes in part stems from an early decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to make the healthcare.gov code available for examination – a promise that was never fully fulfilled.

  6. Expanding the battlefield for Free & Open Source Software

    The title of this post may sound rather belligerant, but it is for a reason. Ever since this Summer -longer in fact- I ended having several conversations with people from the FSF, OSI, April and FSFE (as well as other orgs). Something is becoming increasingly obvious: FOSS has come of age.

  7. OSI Names New General Manager

    Newly Appointed General Manager Patrick Masson Joins OSI from University of Massachusetts

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